First Week in Mongolia

Today marks my first week in Mongolia, and what a week it has been!

So much has happened since I stepped off the plane. Time has gone by so quickly that it feels like I’ve been in Mongolia for more than a week! That being said, this blog post will be a bit disjointed. It won’t capture everything that has happened over the last week, but I hope that you’ll be able to get a glimpse of it.

The flight

The Cathay flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong was delayed for two hours because they, in the words of the pilot, had to “change the plane’s batteries,” which was concerning! Fortunately, the flight went smoothly, and I was able get enough sleep to mitigate the effects of jetlag.

Flight to Ulaanbaatar

The flight to Ulaanbaatar

I had a six-hour layover in Hong Kong. During my six-hour stay in Hong Kong, I had some time to eat breakfast, and take a shower (which would prove to be a smart decision later on). Afterwards, I boarded the MIAT Mongolian Airlines flight to Ulaanbaatar. The flight was quite bumpy, we were frequently in turbulence, and the landing was a bit scary. I’ve been told that this is normal, given UB’s weather situation.

Summer Youth Leadership Conference

Immediately upon arrival, I was fortunate enough to get picked up by Tenger, one of the chapter executives of AIESEC IFE. He and his family took me (and my luggage) straight to the venue of AIESEC Mongolia’s Summer Youth Leadership Conference, which was outside of Ulaanbaatar proper.

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One of the gers that delegates to AIESEC Mongolia’s Summer Youth Leadership Conference stayed in.

The conference venue was in the countryside, pretty much right in the middle of nowhere. The facilitating team and the delegates stayed in concrete gers, which is supposed to be the traditional dwelling of nomads in Mongolia. The gers we stayed in weren’t exactly “traditional” as it was concrete. The normal/usual gers that nomadic people use are essentially heavy duty tents that help them survive through the winter.

SYLC 2013 Delegates. Photo by Nami.

SYLC 2013 Delegates. Photo by Nami.

The conference itself was awesome. It was very different from AIESEC conferences that I have attended in Canada, as well as the conference that I attended in Singapore. The delegates seemed to be really interested and really engaged in the conference. The parties weren’t bad either!

Bits of UB

Ulaanbaatar (or UB) was at first, very intimidating. It’s very different from any of the major cities that I have lived in previously. Crossing the roads, getting a “taxi,” and even taking a shower is completely different (as the hot water has been turned off for our district for the next few days).

We’re fortunate to have the flat situated right in the middle of the city, making day-to-day work and errands easy and convenient.

The city was at first very confusing for me, but from my point of view, the key to being able to get around in UB is to ensure that you know where your landmarks are.

State Department Store (also known as Nomin)

State Department Store (also known as Nomin)

The State Department Store is one such landmark, as the MC flat is very close to it. The State Department Store (aka Nomin) pretty much has everything you need, but there are places you can go to that are much cheaper.

Sukhbaatar Square, which is basically UB’s city centre, is another landmark. The Square contains Mongolia’s parliament house, as well as a massive statute of Chinggis Khan.

Mongolian Parliament

Mongolian Parliament at Sukhbaatar Square

There are tons of statues in UB. In Sukhbaatar Square, the most noticeable ones are the statues of Chinggis Khan, and Sukhbaatar (Red Hero).

Chinggis Khan

Chinggis Khan

Charlie Party

And finally, a video from the farewell party for our former MCP, Charlie. Members of AIESEC Mongolia gathered at the national team’s new flat to send her off just hours before her flight.

And that’s all I have for now. I’m aiming to blog more about life in UB as well as my work for AIESEC in the coming days. Until then, see you later!

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